Bud Shootout Preview

Bud Shootout Preview

Bud Shootout
February 4, 2007
By Micah Roberts
VegasInsider.com


It seems like only yesterday that Jimmie Johnson was crowned Champion while Greg Biffle was winning the season finale in Miami. After a brief vacation through the Holiday’s, the Drivers of NASCAR got back into action with several sponsorship appearances across the country and then a few test sessions between Daytona and Las Vegas.

This weekend the drivers get back into a routine that they’ll see themselves doing the same for each week until the end of November. Saturday night is the Budweiser Shootout from Daytona under the lights nationally televised by FOX. The race is a 70 lap non-points exhibition race consisting of all the drivers who won a pole in 2006 along with past Bud Shootout winners.

The last two seasons have seen the best car sit back and block for their teammate buddy to win the race. In 2005 Jeff Gordon easily had the best car in the field but chose to let Jimmie Johnson get some Daytona excitement. Gordon is a two time winner of the event, Johnson is his protégé, and more importantly the race doesn’t count in the standings.

Last season saw two time Bud Shootout winner Tony Stewart sit back and block for his new rookie teammate Denny Hamlin. In both Gordon and Stewart’s case, they could have, and would have, pressed the issue for a win had it been the Daytona 500.

Having laid that precedence down as a back drop, it leaves the field of 24 starting drivers wide open in what amounts to a glorified sprint race. After looking at the Daytona pre-season testing and looking at what has transpired the last two seasons of restrictor plate racing, it appears there may be only 10 cars in this race that have the possibility of winning. After narrowing down a few of those selections, I think we can be safe by selecting a couple top choices and then one or two medium range to long shot price drivers.

Let’s look at the trio of Hendrick cars driven by Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, and Kyle Busch to set the pace with Dale Earnhardt Jr and Tony Stewart staying close. As with all plate race dashes, there will be two freight trains of cars, one up high and one low. I think Kyle Busch will be the driver that the Hendrick team tries to get into a plate race winners circle.
Look for a good effort out of the Penske duo of Kurt Busch and Ryan Newman down the stretch. Shop around because the Penske drivers can fetch a good price out there. Kurt Busch and the Miller Lite team would love nothing better to roll up in the Bud sponsored race and take the checkers. Other than the short tracks, plate races have been a place where Busch looks most comfortable.

It’s hard to bet against Dale Jr in the Shootout. In 6 career starts, he has finished no worse than 7th and has an average finish of 3.3. What’s amazing is that he also has the worst average start in the race at 15.8 per. The shootout lineup is done by a drawing. In the one and only Shootout that Junior did win, he started from the last position in 19th.

Though the race is an exhibition, the payday for winning is still all cash. The winner will get $215,000 meaning that the drivers will be all business.

Budweiser Shootout Top 5 prediction:
1) #5 Kyle Busch (12/1)
2) #2 Kurt Busch (15/1)
3) #8 Dale Earnhardt Jr (6/1)
4) #20 Tony Stewart (6/1)
5) #12 Ryan Newman (22/1)

Daytona 500 Qualifying
On Sunday morning the drivers will be qualifying for February 18th’s Daytona 500. The top two drivers will be guaranteed a position for the race. The remaining drivers will have to battle for a spot in the race by competing in one of the two Gatorade Duel 150 races on Thursday the 15th. Each race is a 60 lap dash where about 12 entries will be eliminating from competing in Sunday’s race. The Daytona 500 lineup is set where they finish in the two Duel races. Odds will be available for both 60 lap races on Monday afternoon at Station and Hilton books. The Bud shootout and Daytona 500 odds have been available for over a month at most Sports Books in Nevada.

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Bud Shootout Odds

Jimmie Johnson 5 to 1       

Tony Stewart 5 to 1       

Dale Earnhardt Jr 5 to 1       

Jeff Gordon 6 to 1       

Kevin Harvick 10 to 1       

Jeff Burton 12 to 1       

Kyle Busch 12 to 1       

Denny Hamlin 12 to 1       

Kurt Busch 15 to 1

Greg Biffle 25 to 1       

Kasey Kahne 20 to 1   

Mark Martin 25 to 1

Ryan Newman 20 to 1       

Scott Riggs 20 to 1       

Elliott Sadler 25 to 1       

Dale Jarrett 50 to 1       

Brian Vickers 50 to 1   
   
David Gilliland 30 to 1   
   
Boris Said 60 to 1

Field (all others) 35 to 1

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Dale Earnhardt Jr 5-1   

Tony Stewart 5-1   

Jimmie Johnson 5-1   

Jeff Gordon 6-1   

Kyle Busch 10-1   

Kasey Kahne 10-1   

Kevin Harvick 10-1   

Jeff Burton 10-1   

Denny Hamlin 12-1   

Kurt Busch 15-1   

Scott Riggs 18-1   

Ryan Newman 20-1   

Greg Biffle 22-1   

Elliott Sadler 25-1   

David Gilliland 25-1   

Mark Martin 25-1   

Field ( Any Other Driver ) 35-1   

Dale Jarrett 45-1   

Brian Vickers 50-1   

Boris Said 60-1

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Look for a good effort out of the Penske duo of Kurt Busch and Ryan Newman down the stretch. Shop around because the Penske drivers can fetch a good price out there. Kurt Busch and the Miller Lite team would love nothing better to roll up in the Bud sponsored race and take the checkers. Other than the short tracks, plate races have been a place where Busch looks most comfortable.

Kurt Busch will be bringing a great car for the shootout.

Kurt will be racing their No. 66 chassis Miller Lite Dodge in this weekend’s Bud Shootout. The team raced the car in both Talladega races last season, starting fifth and finishing seventh in the May event and finishing third from a 29th-place start in the October race

[img]http://www.race2win.net/images/car/07/2g.jpg[/img]

Plus it looks cool  ;D

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Shootout Showdown: Drivers Ready for First ’07 Event

# Green Flag: Budweiser Shootout The On-Track Opener
# Exclusivity A Hallmark of Shootout Participation
# Knowing When To Sprint A Crucial Shootout Strategy

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 6, 2006) – With an accompaniment of off-season expectations and optimism, this Saturday night’s 29th annual Budweiser Shootout at Daytona marks the first on-track event of the 2007 season.

But only for 21 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series teams.

Exclusive by design – all Budweiser Pole Award winners from the previous year along with former eligible event winners – the Shootout’s excitement is guaranteed, and its benefit is enormous.

Why? It’s the first time drivers hit the track under race conditions, and although a non-points exhibition, perhaps no laps are more anticipated than the first.

“It’s going to be fun to see exactly what we have,” said two-time event winner Dale Jarrett (No. 44 UPS Toyota), the 1999 series champion. “It’s the first time to [do so.]”

Unpredictability is inherent. Witness last year’s upset by victory by eventual Raybestos Rookie of the Year Denny Hamlin (No. 11 FedEx Chevrolet). Then unproven, Hamlin and his team used the win to jump-start what would be a phenomenal rookie run.

“Because of last year and the great boost it gave our team, the Budweiser Shootout means a lot to me and will for the rest of my career,” said Hamlin, who finished third in the final 2006 series standings.

No rookies are eligible for this year’s field, but 11 past Budweiser Shootout victories are sprinkled among the 21 eligible drivers, including two-time event winners Jarrett, Ken Schrader (No. 21 Little Debbie’s Ford), Jeff Gordon (No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet), and Tony Stewart (No. 20 Home Depot Chevrolet).

The Shootout also marks Toyota’s on-track debut; Jarrett has the honors. “Looking forward to it more than usual, actually,” he said. And drivers with other, important wins hope for their Shootout trophy.

“I’m really looking forward to the race,” said Kyle Busch (No. 5 Kellogg’s/CARQUEST Chevrolet). “This is a fun race. It doesn’t count toward points. It’s all about going out there and having fun. Of course (though) we want to win.”

# Eligible Drivers – 2007 Budweiser Shootout At Daytona
Driver ‘06 Poles Driver ’06 Poles Driver Wins ’06 Poles Driver ’06 Poles
Greg Biffle 2 Bill Elliott * Dale Jarrett * Scott Riggs 2
Jeff Burton 4 David Gilliland 1 Jimmie Johnson 1 Elliott Sadler 1
Kurt Busch 6 Jeff Gordon 2 Kasey Kahne 6 Boris Said 1
Kyle Busch 1 Denny Hamlin 3 Mark Martin * Ken Schrader *
Dale Earnhardt Jr. * Kevin Harvick 1 Ryan Newman 2 Tony Stewart *
Brian Vickers 1
* -- Eligible as a former Budweiser Shootout winner.

# Budweiser Shootout Specifics: How It Works; Who’s Eligible
A February tradition since 1979, the Budweiser Shootout marks the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series’ return to the track.

The non-points exhibition kicks off the event-packed week leading up to the season-opening Daytona 500, plus the season-opening events for NASCAR’s other two national series – the NASCAR Busch Series and the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series.

The Shootout format has been modified through the years – it began as a 20-lap sprint in 1979 – but has kept its current format since 2001.

Here are the particulars:

A 70-lap race that begins Saturday at 8:30 p.m.

The first segment is 20 laps, followed by a 10-minute “pit stop,” when crews will be allowed to make normal pit-stop adjustments on their cars.

The second and final segment is 50 laps, hence the “Shootout” label.

Drivers earn Budweiser Shootout berths one of two ways. The first is by winning a Budweiser Pole during the previous season. The second is by being an eligible past winner of the Shootout.

This year, the field is comprised of 15 Budweiser Pole winners from 2006 and six former Shootout winners. Former winners must have finished in the top 50 of the final 2006 series standings to be eligible for Shootout competition.

# In The Loop: Statistics Favor A Denny Hamlin Repeat
No wonder Denny Hamlin pulled off the stunning upset victory in the 2006 Budweiser Shootout at Daytona. Hamlin dominated much of the Loop Data stats, including the all-important Driver Rating category.

A rookie last year, Hamlin posted a Driver Rating of 125.0, nearly six points higher than second-best Tony Stewart (119.1).

But that’s not the half of it. The consistent Hamlin earned an Average Running Position of 6.681, third best for the race. He also earned top speeds in Daytona’s pivotal Turns 2 and 3. Hamlin had a race-best average speed of 187.912 mph in Turn 2 and a speed of 190.592 in Turn 3, the second fastest of anyone finishing on the lead lap.

Hamlin’s Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Tony Stewart, who finished third in last year’s Budweiser Shootout, also found himself atop many of the Loop Data standings. Stewart had the best Average Running Position at 3.417, second-best Speed in Turn 2 (187.781 mph) and fastest Speed in Turn 3 (190.772 mph).

Last season’s NASCAR NEXTEL Cup champion Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet) had a third-best Driver Rating in the Budweiser Shootout at 114.9, and finish with a second-best Average Running Position of 5.764. Johnson also had the fifth-most Green Flag Passes with 112. He finished fifth in the race.

Loop Data is gleaned from electronic scoring loops embedded in each track. The loops yielded a bevy of telling statistics that serve as solid indicators on just what to expect from drivers week-to-week.

# Keys To Victory: Avoid A Shutout At the Shootout
The Budweiser Shootout format is just that – a fun, exciting kick-off to an entire season of racing breathlessness.

Heeding its sprint intent, drivers must decipher how good their car is very quickly, then be able to adjust. Seventy laps sounds like more than enough to coax one’s way to the front, but confidence in one’s equipment, and plotting one’s positioning during the race is just as crucial. It’s a given that with four to six laps remaining, drivers will be deciding when and where to make their final Shootout moves – strategies that guarantee excitement.

Here’s why:
# Know Your Opponents: Unlike regular-season events, which feature 43 drivers, the Shootout rewards a smaller, exclusive group that changes each year. Every Shootout varies because its competitors vary every year.
# Pass Go, All The Way: With a smaller field and more room to roam, speed counts most. One key to Shootout success is to run wide-open as much as possible during the entire 70 laps.
# Eliminate Handling Issues: Most Shootout teams use the first, 20-lap segment to dial in set-ups. The last 50-lap segment is all-out sprint.

# Battle Of ’06 Pole Winners: Kurt Busch, Kasey Kahne Meet In Shootout
Saturday night’s 29th annual Budweiser Shootout may involve a little extra motivation for two drivers – Kasey Kahne (No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge) and Kurt Busch (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge).

Both drivers captured a NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series-best six Budweiser Pole Awards during the 2006 season, but Kahne took home the season award based on a tiebreaker – the driver with the highest finish in the final series standings. Kahne finished eighth; Busch finished 16th.

Both are among the 21-driver field for the 2007 Budweiser Shootout, which showcases the previous season’s Budweiser Pole Award winners and former eligible Shootout winners, and both seek their first Shootout victory.

“It's a prestigious event that has the top drivers in a drafting session and that's what makes it different,” said 2004 series champion Kurt Busch (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge). “You're challenging other top drivers in the draft, under the lights, on a Saturday night at Daytona.”

“The Budweiser Shootout is exciting and fun,” Kahne said. “It has nothing to do with points, so there’s none of that pressure. We will go out, have fun and try to win a restrictor plate race. Everybody will be racing for the win.

“I’m very happy to be in the Shootout on Saturday night and not have to wait until the Daytona 500 to race.”

# On Deck: Budweiser Pole Day And The Gatorade Duel At Daytona
While the 29th annual Budweiser Shootout kicks off the 2007 season, NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series drivers’ first order of official business looms the following day – Sunday, Feb. 11.

That’s Budweiser Pole Day, when teams begin the qualifying process for the Daytona 500. The entire field will qualify that afternoon – with drivers making their usual, singular two-lap runs. But only the top two qualifiers lock in their spots for the 48th annual Daytona 500 on Sunday, Feb. 18.

Those drivers – the pole winner and the outside pole winner – are in. The rest of the field will vie for Daytona 500 starting berths next Thursday in the Gatorade Duel at Daytona – back-to-back, 150-mile (60-lap) qualifying races.

Jeff Burton (No. 31 Cingular Wireless Chevrolet), is the defending Daytona 500 polesitter. Jeff Gordon is the defending outside pole winner. Burton finished seventh in last year’s final series standings; Gordon finished sixth.

The defending Daytona 500 champion, Jimmie Johnson, also is the reigning series champion.

Pre-Race On-Track Schedule: Friday—Practice, 4:15 -5 p.m. Final practice, 6:30-7:30 p.m. Drawing for starting order held Feb. 8 at 8 p.m.

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Boris Said 55/1

Brian Vickers 50/1

Dale Earnhardt Jr. 5/1

Dale Jarrett 40/1

David Gilliland 22/1

Denny Hamlin 12/1

Elliott Sadler 25/1

Greg Biffle 26/1

Jeff Burton 12/1

Jeff Gordon 6/1

Jimmie Johnson 5/1

Kasey Kahne 18/1

Kevin Harvick 10/1

Kurt Busch 16/1

Kyle Busch 11/1

Mark Martin 25/1

Ryan Newman 18/1

Scott Riggs 18/1

Tony Stewart 5/1

Field (Any Other Driver) 30/1

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Numbers Game: Analyzing the Budweiser Shootout Field

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 5, 2007) – The days of racing against the clock are over.

After a series of tests at Daytona International Speedway and Las Vegas Motor Speedway, a select group of NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series drivers are returning to Daytona a bit early to compete against much more formidable foes: Each other.

They’re coming for Saturday night’s Budweiser Shootout at Daytona (FOX 8:30 p.m.), an annual non-points race providing fans a high-end preview of what’s to come during the 2007 season. The 70-lap race features 21 drivers, 15 of which won a Budweiser Pole during the 2006 season. (The remainder of the field consists of past shootout winners.)

The Budweiser Shootout is one of the more unpredictable races on the NASCAR calendar. But a look at the past gives a glimpse of greatness that can evolve after a shootout victory.

The list of drivers who won the Budweiser Shootout in their first attempt is both illustrious and intriguing: Buddy Baker (1980 Daytona 500 winner), Dale Earnhardt (seven-time NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series champion), Jeff Gordon (four-time series champion), Dale Jarrett (1999 series champion) and last year’s upset winner, Denny Hamlin, who went on to win the 2006 Raybestos Rookie of the Year title.

Beyond that, 10 drivers who have won the Budweiser Shootout have also won NASCAR NEXTEL Cup championships.

In other words, this is an exhibition in theory only.

The main question coming into this weekend: Who will add their name to the distinguished list of winners?

A look at last year’s Budweiser Shootout “Loop Data” – real-time statistics gleaned form electronic scoring loops imbedded around the race track – could well supply some answers:

Hamlin (No. 11 FedEx Chevrolet), the 2006 Budweiser Shootout champion, had a Driver Rating (125.0) that was almost six points higher than anyone else.

Tony Stewart (No. 20 Home Depot Chevrolet), twice a Budweiser Shootout winner and also a two-time series titlist, had the best Average Running Position (3.417) last year.

Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet), the reigning series champion, saved the best for last in the 2006 version of the Budweiser Shootout, averaging a speed of 186.348 mph over the last 25 percent of the race, boosting him to a fifth-place finish.

Scott Riggs (No. 10 Valvoline/Stanley Tools Dodge) was one of the best Closers last year, gaining five positions (jumping from ninth to fourth) over the last seven laps.

Considering that all 21 cars will likely be bunched together most of the night, Brian Vickers (No. 83 Red Bull Toyota) could have a solid shot. He had the best Speed In Traffic last year, averaging 188.409 mph. Of course, that effort came in a Chevrolet; this year, Vickers is the lead driver for Toyota’s debut in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet) has an average finish of 3.3 in his six shootout appearances, the best of any active driver.

Dale Jarrett (No. 44 UPS Toyota), Jeff Gordon and Stewart have all earned more than one Budweiser Shootout victory, with Mark Martin (No. 01 U.S. Army Chevrolet), Bill Elliott, Earnhardt Jr., Johnson and Hamlin looking to join them as multiple winners.

Hamlin, though, looks to join an exclusive group of drivers who have won two consecutive Budweiser Shootouts (Neil Bonnett, Ken Schrader [No. 21 Little Debbie Ford] and Stewart have also done it).

The qualifying order drawing will take place Thursday and a glance at history says it doesn’t matter how you start, it’s how you finish.

While Darrell Waltrip, Bill Elliott and Schrader each have won from the pole position, Earnhardt Jr. started 19th and won in 2003. It was the lowest starting position of any driver who has won the Budweiser Shootout.

A detailed look at Loop Data from the 2006 Budweiser Shootout follows, along with a look at this year’s eligible drivers’ history in the event.

All Numbers from 2006 Budweiser Shootout
(X) – 2006 Budweiser Shootout Finish In Parentheses
* Not eligible for 2007 Budweiser Shootout

Driver Rating
1. Denny Hamlin (1) – 125.0
2. Tony Stewart (3) – 119.1
3. Jimmie Johnson (5) – 114.9
4. Dale Earnhardt Jr. (2) – 113.3
5. Jamie McMurray* (8) – 105.4

Average Running Position
1. Tony Stewart (3) – 3.471
2. Jimmie Johnson (5) – 5.764
3. Denny Hamlin (1) – 6.681
4. Kyle Busch (15) – 7.625
5. Dale Earnhardt Jr. (2) – 7.694

Laps in the Top 15
1. Tony Stewart (3) – 72
2. Jimmie Johnson (5) – 72
3. Joe Nemechek* (9) – 72
4. Kyle Busch (15) – 71
5. Dale Earnhardt Jr. (2) – 69

Fastest on Restarts (mph)
1. Brian Vickers (21) – 181.893
2. Kevin Harvick (20) – 181581
3. Jamie McMurray* - 181.523
4. Jeff Gordon (19) – 181.107
5. Matt Kenseth* (6) – 180.697

Green Flag Passes
1. Jamie McMurray* (8) – 153
2. Dale Earnhardt Jr. (2) – 128
3. Matt Kenseth* (6) – 127
4. Ryan Newman (18) – 120
5. Jimmie Johnson (5) – 112

Fastest Laps (mph)
1. Jamie McMurray* (8) – 192.963 on Lap 2
2. Dale Earnhardt Jr. (2) – 192.915 on Lap 2
3. Brian Vickers (21) – 192.223 on Lap 2
4. Jamie McMurray* (8) – 191.798 on Lap 53
5. Dale Earnhardt Jr. (2) – 191.416 on Lap 3

I think all of the Vickers info has to be suspect since he is going to Toyota.

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After looking at all the info I could dig up I am going with Kurt Busch 18/1 @ Sportsinteraction for the Shhotout.

It looks like Busch wants to make a statement in this race to show everyone that last year is behind him and that Penske is back.

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Jarrett on Pole for Budweiser Shootout

Dale Jarrett will start from the Bud Pole position in Saturday night's 29th annual Budweiser Shootout at Daytona. Jarrett will lead the field to the green flag in the first-ever NASCAR Nextel Cup competition for Toyota. Jarrett drives the #44 UPS Toyota for Michael Waltrip Racing. This is the second pole position for Jarrett in his 12th Shootout start. The starting lineup was determined by a random draw Thursday evening at Daytona International Speedway. The defending race winner, Denny Hamlin, will start in the final position, 21st. The 29th Budweiser Shootout at Daytona can be seen on Fox-TV beginning at 8 pm Saturday night.

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Unpredictable Shootout par for '07 course
Jeff Hammond / FOX Sports

It's amazing how Daytona Speedweeks comes around faster every year, but I'm really not amazed by how many people who think they understand the importance of Daytona don't have a clue.

Coming off of Super Bowl weekend and listening to all of the hype about how huge that game in Miami was, it made me realize that you can't compare Daytona to the Super Bowl and the Masters enough. I hear a lot of announcers and reporters making comments about Daytona, and I just don't think they've totally captured the importance of the next two weeks. They set the tone for the entire season.

As I watched the two teams play the Super Bowl, I knew the Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning and Adam Vinatieri, who is probably the most celebrated NFL kicker in a long time. And Chicago Bears quarterback Rex Grossman's troubles were well-documented. From all of the pregame exposure, fans might know 10 players on both teams.

NASCAR fans probably know more drivers, crew chiefs and owners than fans in any other sport. I'm not saying that there aren't some experts that are dyed-in-the-wool baseball and football fans and know every player on every team. But if you tell a race fan a number, he or she will tell you the driver and manufacturer, and a lot of times, the crew chief and owner as well.

The fans in our sport are more special than any other sport, and Daytona is bigger than anything else in NASCAR. It's really huge.

Who to Watch

Denny Hamlin:
With his win in the 2006 Budweiser Shootout, last year's rookie of the year demonstrated that there are no favorites in this race. This race should be a microcosm of the entire season. because the entire 2007 season will be unpredictable.

Tony Stewart: You can make a case for this two-time Budweiser Shootout winner, who has won the last two July races at Daytona.

Jimmie Johnson: The 2005 Shootout winner also has two all-star wins. He runs well in these non-point dashes for cash.

Elliott Sadler: I've been ballyhooing this driver as a sleeper. He could easily make the right moves at the right places and the right times and be the guy that we're talking about next week.

What to Watch

Fuel mileage won't matter: I don't think the 17 3/4-gallon fuel cell is going to come into play during the Budweiser Shootout. There's a good possibility that there will be enough action and trouble that there will be some pit stops. Guys will make some moves that will get them in trouble, and it will allow the other guys to make stops so fuel mileage should not factor into who wins and loses.

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The Season Starts Here
Jorge A. Mondaca
Assistant Editor


DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Get ready for NASCAR’s version of opening day.

The Budweiser Shootout, an annual 70-lap sprint race that features all Bud Pole award winners from the previous season along with former eligible event winners, kicks off the 2007 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup season this Saturday night – and with it, a season full of intrigue, drama and changes unlike any previous year.

One need not look any further than the polesitter for the event to understand just how different this season is compared to 2006.

Dale Jarrett, once a loyal soldier for Robert Yates Racing and manufacturer Ford, is one of seven drivers scheduled to compete full time for Toyota in their inaugural season of NEXTEL Cup competition. He will lead the field to the green flag on Saturday for the 29th running of the Shootout in his No. 44 UPS Camry. Just one row behind, Brian Vickers will be piloting the No. 83 Red Bull Camry from the fourth starting spot.

Although the Japanese manufacturer struggled during the two preseason test sessions at Daytona International Speedway and Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Jarrett is optimistic about his chances going into Saturday.

"I think it is our first opportunity to see these cars in race conditions. We’ve been out here and we’ve tested, we’ve been in drafting practice – that gives you a little bit of an idea, but it’s not race conditions," said the former NEXTEL Cup champion.

"But I am going (into the race) to win."

For Vickers and his crew, the race doesn’t just mark driving for a new manufacturer, but also for a new team – one of several new teams for 2007.

"I’m actually a little anxious going into this weekend. I think if you don’t go into this thing being a little bit nervous, then you’re not human," said Vickers Crew Chief Doug Richert, formerly of Roush Racing. "Everything about our team is brand new and we’re all curious to see how we stack up against everybody else on the race track."

But the season’s focus is not just about the new manufacturer – and neither is the race.

Another important storyline will be Jimmie Johnson’s attempt to defend his 2006 championship crown.

"The last time we raced was in Homestead and that seems like a long time ago. To get out there and start racing again in something as wild and fun as the Shootout is really cool," said Johnson, driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet. "It’s one of the races everyone anticipates."

While the Shootout won’t have any impact on the standings, Johnson hopes to jump start his season by taking the top prize.

"We won this race in 2005. Winning this event is always a great way to start the season."

Ultimately, that’s what the Shootout is all about; the lion’s share of the $1,153,518 purse and the momentum heading into the biggest race of the season, the Daytona 500.

Nobody is a better example than Denny Hamlin. Last season, the 26-year-old driver of the No. 11 FedEx Chevrolet entered the Shootout as a young rookie looking to gain experience on a superspeedway.

This year, he enters the event as the defending race winner and a threat for the championship after finishing third in last season’s final standings.

"Considering where we were last year at this time it is pretty amazing that we are coming back to Daytona and preparing for the Bud Shootout as the defending champions. That win last year really got our season off to a great start and it gave us a lot of confidence heading into the Cup schedule," said Hamlin. "I think we’ll approach this year’s shootout in the same way we did last year – go out there any have some fun but we also take a lot of pride in our superspeedway program and we’ll want to show what we can do. It’s also a good opportunity to get out there with some of the best drivers in the sport and try to find some drafting partners for the 500 as well."

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I am going to play one matchup tonight

J Gordon +115 / D Earnhardt jr

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Re: Bud Shootout Preview

mvbski wrote:


After looking at all the info I could dig up I am going with Kurt Busch 18/1 @ Sportsinteraction for the Shhotout.

It looks like Busch wants to make a statement in this race to show everyone that last year is behind him and that Penske is back.

wink

Busch was looking great till he lost the draft  :'(

The Toyota's looked like junk IMO

mvbski
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